Paedophiles and war profiteers: Riyadh, Abu Dhabi dealt with sleazy Washington pair to smear Qatar

Paedophiles and war profiteers: Riyadh, Abu Dhabi dealt with sleazy Washington pair to smear Qatar
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been dealing with a pair of controversial Washington lobbyists to sway the US government to sanction Qatar, an explosive new report has revealed.
3 min read
22 May, 2018
Washington lobbyists worked with Saudis, Emiratis to sway the US government against Qatar [AP]
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been dealing with a pair of controversial Washington lobbyists to sway the US government against Qatar, an explosive new report has revealed.

In return, the two men, disgraced former Republican Party official Elliott Broidy and businessman George Nader - a convicted paedophile - tried to secure large military and intelligence consulting contracts from Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, promising access to President Trump, according to the lengthy expose by the Associated Press.

AP's report is based on a new tranche of emails it has obtained and interviews with more than two dozen people, and reveals what it says is the pair's "ambitious, secretive lobbying effort to isolate Qatar and undermine the Pentagon’s longstanding relationship with the Gulf country".

The two men and their associates' exploits as go-betweens organising backchannel plots between Washington and Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have been exposed in several articles over the past year.

Read more: Iraq 'black ops' executive hired by Dubai for anti-Qatar US attack

Only this week, The New York Times reported on a potentially law-skirting meeting between the US president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, and an envoy representing the crown princes of the UAE and Saudi Arabia arranged by Erik Prince, founder of mercenary provider Blackwater, and attended by George Nader himself.

However, Broidy and Nader's reported efforts to undercut the US relationship with Qatar were not previously well known.

Broidy and his Lebanese-American partner Nader "pitched themselves to the crown princes as a backchannel to the White House, passing the princes' praise - and messaging - straight to the president's ears", said AP's report in reference to the de-facto rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, crown princes Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) and Mohammen bin Zayed (MbZ) respectively.

In return for pushing anti-Qatar policies at the highest levels of America's government, Broidy and Nader "expected huge consulting contracts from Saudi Arabia and the UAE".

Story continues below interactive timeline

The AP previously reported that Broidy and Nader sought to get an anti-Qatar bill through Congress while obscuring the source of the money behind their influence campaign, but the new cache of emails shows the nature of the foreign links and connects them directly to Qatar rivals Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Read more: UAE adviser 'sent Republicans millions' to push anti-Qatar agenda

Broidy and Nader thus sought to trump up Qatar's ties to Iran, and convince the US government to sanction by sharing "proof" that Qatar backed terrorist and Islamist groups.

Eliott Broidy [Getty]

The pair's efforts also included commissioning hundreds of anti-Qatar articles by US think-tanks placed in mainstream media in 2017, and organising an anti-Qatar conference earlier that year.

Once Saudi Arabia and the UAE engineered the blockade of Qatar, the lobbyists offered to convince Trump to take a similar anti-Qatar line.

Qatar was thrust into a diplomatic crisis last June, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic relations with Doha and announced a sea, land and air blockade on the Gulf state.

Read more: Trump's other foreign collusion scandal: Abu Dhabi's dollars

The move came shortly after Trump's infamous sword-dancing, glowing-orb-clutching visit to Saudi Arabia. The president initially publicly backed the blockade, although the State Department tried to distanced itself from the Saudi-led action.

Trump has since met Qatar Emir Tamim al-Thani and tried to end the rift between the Gulf states, saying intra-GCC divisions would only benefit regional powerhouse Iran.

The AP report may bring fresh legal trouble for Broidy and Nader, the latter having been already caught in the net cast by the Mueller investigation into possible foreign meddling into US elections and policies.

Neither of the men are registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which demands lobbyists reveal their connections and work conducted for foreign governments.

Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen, currently the subject of investigations into his role in suppressing information about the president's alleged sex scandals, also represented Broidy, who has confessed to paying off a Playboy Playmate with whom he had an affair in exchange for her silence about their relationship.

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